David Estrada figured if he was picked in the third round of Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft he would be happy, but if he was taken in the fourth and final round he might consider going back to school.
Estrada had no plan at all for being taken in the first round, because that never crossed his mind – right up until he heard Seattle Sounders FC make him the 11th overall pick.
“I did not expect it at all,” he said. “I ran outside to my back yard screaming my lungs out.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid didn’t pretend that he had awakened Thursday morning hoping to snag Estrada, a forward/midfielder from UCLA. The way the Sounders saw it, this draft’s supply of solid guys who could be picked with confidence went about eight deep. Schmid hoped one of those players might slide to 11. But when that didn’t happen, he saw Estrada as the best fit from among the next tier of riskier projects.
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“We felt there were a number of guys who were sort of similar: guys with potential, guys that if everything went right could hit it,” Schmid said. “And we felt that David Estrada was a good option for us because of his ability to play in the wide channel and to play up top.”
Estrada’s adversity hit in his second season of college.
He had been a high school phenom in Salinas, Calif., where he scored a national-best 66 goals in his senior season, including a state-record 11 in a single game.
And his success continued when he walked on at UCLA and led the Bruins with 12 goals, which also was a school record for freshmen. He was selected Soccer America’s national freshman of the year and was voted UCLA’s offensive MVP.
However, Estrada managed only All-Pacific-10 Conference honorable mention after foot surgery shortened his sophomore season. And even when his health returned in his junior year, the magic didn’t.
“I came in as fit as anyone can be, but mentally I was weak,” he said. “I was putting too much pressure on myself. ... Obviously, I did really well my freshman year – I know what it takes to be successful. But at the same time, I know sometimes you’re going to hit some downhill slopes, and you’ve just got to work your way through it.”
With their second pick, the Sounders took Mike Seamon, a forward/midfielder from Villanova. Seamon led the Wildcats in scoring all four seasons and concluded his college career as a first-team All-Big East selection.
Seattle had no third-round pick, which went to Houston as part of the trade for Patrick Ianni. But in the fourth-round, Sounders FC selected Jamel Wallace, a defender/midfielder from San Diego State.
“We were looking at a couple of other guys who could do (similar things) but we thought (Seamon) was a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger,” Schmid said.
The draft began as expected with the expansion Philadelphia Union using the top pick on Danny Mwanga, a forward from Oregon State.